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Drew, Audrey

Audrey Drew diaries.

London, 1941-1945.
Physical Description:
6 volumes ; 14 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
D760.8.L7 D74 1941
Yale Center for British Art, Friends of British Art Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Manuscript pocket diaries kept by Audrey Drew, of Streatham (London), from 1941 to 1945. The collection consists of six small, red notebooks, all but one bearing the insignia of Callender's Cable & Construction Company, where Drew worked. The notebooks are divided by year, with two for 1941, and individual ones for 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945. The notebooks allow a few lines for each day, and have space for addresses, phone numbers, and other information in the back pages, which Drew has, in most cases, filled in with contact information for various individuals. Five of the notebooks contain primarily personal entries, while one records war news and air raids almost exclusively.
Drew lived in London, and worked as a secretary for Callender's. She taught Sunday school in her free time. The majority of the notebooks describe her routines, interests, and friends: she goes to the movies frequently, enjoys the opera (especially Peter Grimes and La Bohème), and relates small bits of neighborhood news. She notes her attendance at church events, her attempts at learning teleprinting, and other everyday activities. She also gives accounts of her family and friends, especially her parents, and her sister Doris. Doris's trips, illnesses, and boyfriend (who, it is suggested, may have returned from the war disabled) all figure prominently in Drew's account.
Even in the notebooks devoted to daily occurrences, however, the war looms large. Drew corresponds, for instance, with a friend who has volunteered for the Royal Air Force, who says he may be deployed to Burma. She remarks on who's home on leave, and, in one instance, on a friend's relationship with an American soldier. She records her own and other's turns on fire watch (reporting fires started by bombs to the fire department) and, in the later years, notes several V2 or rocket attacks, along with casualties and damage. Occasionally, she appears to refer to rationing or the difficulty of finding particular goods, such as when she remarks on an unsuccessful shopping trip, counts coupons needed for clothing, or emphasizes the amount of food at a gathering or party. Towards the end of the war, the daily events give way to updates on the war, with almost daily entries on the progress of Russian, American, and British troops towards Berlin. She marks VE Day in her journal, and likewise notes the surrender of Japan, though Drew gives far less attention to the latter -- or the Pacific theater in general -- and makes no mention of the atom bomb. At one point, lamenting the differing stories about when and how Japan and Germany will surrender, she writes, “there are still every so many rumors.”
One notebook -- for 1941 -- is devoted entirely to war-related events and news. Here, rather than recounting her daily activities, or the routines of her family and friends, Drew records air raid activity, damage done, fires started, and time spent on fire watch. She records nighttime and daytime raids on an almost daily basis, though there are some calm spells. At one point, Drew writes: “I think Hitler must be keeping his planes for the Mediterranean now Italy is doing so badly.” Updates on other wartime developments comprise the other major component of the journal: Drew records the progress of British forces in Africa, German expansion in the Balkans, and significant naval encounters between the British and Germans. Other parts of the British Empire make an appearance as well: Iraq, where anti-British nationalists received Nazi support, is subject of at least one entry.
Subject Terms:
Callender's Cable & Construction Company.
Drew, Audrey -- Diaries.
Drew, Doris.
London (England) -- History -- Bombardment, 1940-1941.
London (England) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
Opera -- England -- London.
Rationing -- Great Britain.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Aerial operations, German.
World War, 1939-1945 -- England -- London.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, British.

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